Had a few hours to kill before my flight from Bhubaneswar. So thought of stopping by Dhaulagiri. Dhaulagiri is a small hillock surrounded by plains, around 7 km from the State capital. Dhauli, as it is locally known, is believed to be the place where the famous (or rather infamous) Kalinga war was fought in 260 BC. Over 150,000 lives were lost in the bitter battle. It is said the waters of the nearby river Daya had turned blood red due to the merciless bloodbath.
Despite emerging victorious, the huge loss of life and suffering witnessed in the battlefield transformed King Ashoka from Chandashoka to Dharmashoka, from a tyrant ruler to a benevolent king. He renounced war forever by offering his sword at the feet of Lord Buddha. He embraced Buddhism and became one of its biggest proponents. The king had 84000 stupas built and sent them to places as far as distant Greece with peace messengers. Ashoka The Great is today remembered, among the other things, for his work in establishing peace among nations.
A number of edicts of King Ashoka can be seen engraved on mass of rocks by the road side near the summit of the hill. The edicts are written in Prakrit language, the then language of the common masses, using the Brahmi script. In these edicts, Kind Ashoka has declared his doctrine of paternalism, accepting all men as his children, and urged the administrators to work for the welfare of the common man.
The Shanti Stupa at Dhaulagiri, also known as the Peace Pagoda, is built at the summit of Dhauli hills. It is a dazzling white pagoda symbolizing world peace. The Shanti Stupa was built jointly by the Nipponzan Myohoji, a Japanese Buddhist Sangha founded by Nichidatsu Fujii or Fujii Guruji as he was called, and the Kalinga Nippon Buddha Sangha in 1972.
The pagoda dome has five umbrellas at the top signifying five essential parts of Buddhism. The walls of the pagoda is adorned by beautiful stone panels which included the Bodhi Tree, an elephant procession and King Ashoka offering his sword in front of Lord Buddha.